Women’s Basketball’s First-Year Star Bryana Woodard

Bryana Woodard smiles proudly in her basketball uniform for media day.

Courtesy of Amanda Phillips

Bryana Woodard smiles proudly in her basketball uniform for media day.

It was a season for the ages for Oberlin women’s basketball — especially for first-year forward Bryana Woodard — as the Yeowomen tied their all-time season record for wins at 21, earning them a No. 2 seed in the North Coast Atlantic Conference tournament. Woodard was a key piece to this success; the Cincinnati native finished the season with a very strong 14.8 points and 5.6 rebounds, while shooting 52.5 percent from the field. She gained some impressive accolades on the way, including Conference Player of the Week, an all-tournament team selection, and was named to the NCAC second-team. It’s safe to say that the future is bright for Oberlin women’s basketball.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


With a very young team with six out of your top seven players at the top of the rotation being first- and second-year students, what have you learned the most from this year?

It’s great to have a team that’s so young this year. It was even better to be led by the three amazing seniors we had. With such a young team, it is easy to fall apart or focus on the self instead of the team, but the three of them instilled — from way before we even started the season — that we were a family that came first. Together we learned that our age doesn’t matter so long as we stick together and push each other everyday.


You and fellow first-year Camille Zinaich formed a dynamic duo down low, combining for 26.7 points a game and the Conference of the Week honors. What has she meant to you as a teammate, and what are you most looking forward to while playing with her for the next three years?

Millie and I planned to be roommates, so we had been talking all summer about how excited we were to finally play together. We played in a pickup game our first week here and from that moment on, I knew our on-the-court chemistry was something special. We’ve been working to teach each other different aspects of our individual game in order to grow our skillset and make us even more of a threat. I am excited to see how both of our games grow in these next three years and how that bond continues to be strengthened.


Even though the season didn’t end as hoped, with the loss to Ohio Wesleyan University in the conference tournament, what are your thoughts on how the season ended? What are you most looking forward to for next season?

Obviously, any loss is tough, especially the ones that end a season. I think the reason this one hurt so much was because we wanted to win it all so badly, not for ourselves but for each other and our coaches. It was tough that we couldn’t pull it off but it just makes me even more excited for next season. Next year, I’m excited to get back out there and start our journey to a conference championship. Taking everything we learned and with some more experience under our belts, I have a feeling we’ll be pretty dangerous.


Coach Dunmyer has done a fantastic job coaching and recruiting to make this magical season happen, turning the team from 9–17 in 2020 to 21–4 this year. What has she done for your personal growth and the team’s historic turnaround?

Coach Dunny is amazing. Before I had ever met her in person, she constantly checked in — not just on my game, but also on my physical and mental well-being. She pours so much time and heart into coaching us on and off the court. Having someone that we can talk to about anything, basketball-related or not, strengthened our team connection. By instilling in us our team’s core values, we were not only able to make history, but we also had a lot of fun doing it. She and Coach Mo [Maureen Hirt] are my role models.


What’s the biggest difference and adjustment between playing high school basketball and college basketball?

The biggest adjustment between playing high school basketball and college basketball for me would probably be the players. In high school many people were playing for fun. Every player we go against in college has proved they are good enough to play at the collegiate level. The basketball IQ of these girls is insane and it is an honor to play with them. I learn more about the game not only from my teammates, but also our opponents, every day.


What’s the chemistry like on the team? Would you say you’re close with many of your teammates off the court?

The simplest way to put it is: family. Basketball is a long season — almost five months — so it’s good we all love each other. During Winter Term we found ourselves all going out to breakfast, then practice, then maybe a lift before going to watch a movie or going on an adventure together. I am someone who needs my social battery to recharge every once in a while, but when I am with my team it never runs low. I know that my teammates will always be there for me and respect and love me not only as a player, but more importantly as a person. When I committed I had no idea I would be getting a package deal of 15 siblings, but I’m so grateful for each and every one of them.